One of the best SNES brawlers was Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. A port of the arcade game, there was one major difference with the SNES version; it was better. The main reason for the SNES Turtles‘ superiority was its beefier combat, but the extra stages and characters didn’t hurt, either. 21 years later, Turtles in Time remains a constant in articles about under-appreciated games of yesterday. Yet, despite the abundance of posthumous praise the game receives, there’s one major hurdle preventing Turtles in Time from making an encore; licensing.
The Ninja Turtles weren’t owned by Konami, just like Batman didn’t belong to Sunsoft and Aladdin didn’t belong to Capcom. Licensing agreements have yielded many excellent games over the years, but as time passes and rights go away, those titles ultimately end up in limbo. We see spurts of resurgence here and there, like when some of Capcom’s Disney games were re-released on the Game Boy Advance, or the GameCube Turtles games that featured ports of the arcade games. Sadly, these examples are few and erratic, and have left me with little hope for much more over the years. At least, that’s how I felt until WayForward and Capcom announced DuckTales Remastered.
Remastered is a HD remake of the legendary NES game. Capcom has an entire catalog of quality, licensed Disney games under its cap that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Systems like the NES, SNES, and SEGA Genesis were home to some of those wonderful titles, but sadly they continue to languish over the years as memories and nothing more. Luckily, with the effort being made by Capcom and Disney to return a classic title like DuckTales to the marketplace, there’s a chance that more licensed games will find their way back to players.
Services like Nintendo’s Virtual Console, Sony’s PSN, and Microsoft’s XBox LIVE have been around for years now and are the perfect venue for getting classic licensed games back into the hands of consumers. Sony, for their part, has made the effort to offer a small selection of older licensed titles, but what’s there is limited and not nearly enough. For many gamers, titles like Mickey’s Magical Quest or X-Men hold as special a place in their memories as Zelda or Metroid. While I wouldn’t suggest that those titles are of equal quality or importance, I do believe that their significance to gamers of generations past makes them worth revisiting.
I’d really love to see a concentrated effort made by the developers and license holders of these old games to get them re-released in some fashion. Part of the history of gaming is and continues to come from licenses from all forms of media; just look at the Arkham games. As a part of gaming’s past, licensed games deserve the same preservation and recognition as games like Crash Bandicoot, Banjo Kazooie, and Super Mario, all of which are available from their respective downloadable services. While certainly a niche market, the audience for these titles is considerable and deserves to be satiated. Here’s hoping DuckTales is a smash hit so that other classic licensed games can make a comeback, too.